Talk at RCA, Design Products

I had a very gen­er­ous slot for pre­sent­ing to some in Design Prod­ucts at the RCA this week.

Slides from RCA Design Products talk Feb 2017

In this talk, I want to sug­gest we have spent too much time work­ing with the lim­its of capability—the lim­its of the per­cep­tu­al appa­ra­tus, the lim­its of cog­ni­tive capac­i­ties, and the lim­its of how crit­ters (whether human or non­hu­man) inter­act and relate to one anoth­er. Draw­ing on a fem­i­nist techno­science and using exam­ples from recent field­work, I’ll aim to show that, togeth­er, we make our­selves capa­ble. That capa­bil­i­ty isn’t lim­it­ed to some pre-giv­en, indi­vid­ual state, but comes into being through (inter)action, through entan­gled rela­tions between actors of all kinds. This, I’ll claim, gives us a very dif­fer­ent way of think­ing about our rela­tions with tech­nol­o­gy and espe­cial­ly the promise of AI and machine learn­ing. Rather than machines aim­ing to repli­cate human capa­bil­i­ty, I want to pro­pose an expan­sive project that allows us the chance to imag­ine some­thing ‘oth­er-than’ finite capa­bil­i­ties, that sees capa­bil­i­ty as a ‘becom­ing-with’, and lays open the pos­si­bil­i­ties for much much more.


I’m hop­ing to fine-tune and do a lit­tle tidy­ing of these ideas for this talk at the Knowl­edge Lab (Insti­tute of Edu­ca­tion) lat­er this month.


On Counting

Kat Jung­nick­el kind­ly invit­ed me to a two day meet­ing as part of her con­tin­u­ing series of Trans­mis­sions and Entan­gle­ments events. Amidst oth­ers work­ing through new meth­ods and process­es, here’s what I had to say for myself on count­ing:

What is it to count and to be counted?
One way I have made sense of my work over the last 10 years at Microsoft has been to see it as a way of get­ting to grips with count­ing and in some ways com­ing to terms with being counted.

Presenting “Data in place”

We’re pre­sent­ing a paper at CHI this year on Teni­son Road.
Alex S. Tay­lor, Siân Lind­ley, Tim Regan, David Sweeney, Vasilis Vla­chokyr­i­akos, Lil­lie Grainger, Jes­sa Lin­gel (2015), Data-in-Place: Think­ing through the Rela­tions Between Data and Com­mu­ni­ty, CHI 2015.
Here’s the abstract:

We present find­ings from a year-long engage­ment with a street and its com­mu­ni­ty. The work explores how the pro­duc­tion and use of data is bound up with place, both in terms of phys­i­cal and social geog­ra­phy. We detail three strands of the project. First, we con­sid­er how res­i­dents have sought to curate exist­ing data about the street in the form of an archive with phys­i­cal and dig­i­tal com­po­nents. Sec­ond, we report endeav­ours to cap­ture data about the street’s envi­ron­ment, espe­cial­ly of vehi­cle traf­fic. Third, we draw on the pos­si­bil­i­ties afford­ed by tech­nolo­gies for polling opin­ion. We reflect on how these engage­ments have: mate­ri­alised dis­tinc­tive rela­tions between the com­mu­ni­ty and their data; sur­faced flows and con­tours of data, and spa­tial, tem­po­ral and social bound­aries; and enact­ed a mul­ti­plic­i­ty of ‘small worlds’. We con­sid­er how such a con­cep­tu­al­i­sa­tion of data-in-place is rel­e­vant to the design of technology.

Talk at “Austerity Futures?”

Abstract for upcom­ing talk at Aus­ter­i­ty Futures? sem­i­nar 4.
houses long B&W [Big] data futures, from the street.
Sto­ries about big data are every­where. We’re being told how sig­nif­i­cant the impact of big data will be on our lives by all kinds of peo­ple in the know. And yet I’ve been grap­pling with what (big) data might real­ly mean to peo­ple who aren’t ful­ly signed up mem­bers of the digerati, those shapers, mak­ers and mod­ers of tech­no­log­i­cal futures. I’ve pon­dered, in short, on two sim­ple ques­tions: how does data mat­ter to ‘peo­ple on the street’, and how might they want it to mat­ter. In this talk, I’ll reflect on a project we’ve been build­ing up at Microsoft Research to begin work­ing through these ques­tions. I want to dis­cuss our efforts to ground a tech­no­log­i­cal imag­i­nary in ordi­nary life or, to put it anoth­er way, to enable a pro­duc­tive re-imag­in­ing of ‘big data futures’—to coin a phrase—from ‘the street’. I’ll describe how we’ve tak­en this chal­lenge quite lit­er­al­ly. Just over three weeks ago we began work­ing with one street in Cam­bridge, Teni­son Road. For at least a year, we plan to think through what data means for the Teni­son Road com­mu­ni­ty and in some cas­es to enable ways for the com­mu­ni­ty to inter­vene in the future imag­i­nar­ies. Although this won’t be a talk or for that mat­ter a project about aus­ter­i­ty, I cer­tain­ly think it is one in which aus­ter­i­ty and its reper­cus­sions will come to mat­ter. My aim, then, will be to reflect on how this is a project con­cerned with futures, futures that are heav­i­ly con­cen­trat­ed in the minds of the tech­no­log­i­cal elite, but also some that are more pedes­tri­an that might just offer alter­na­tive pos­si­bil­i­ties for what (big) data could mean and what we might do with it.
web: | email: [email protected] | twit­ter: @tenisonroad

Talk at INCITE-ing Transformation in Social Research

On Sat­ur­day (12 Oct) I pre­sent­ed a short paper reflect­ing on INCITE’s achieve­ments over the last 10 or so years at “INCITE-ing Trans­for­ma­tion in Social Research
Ref­er­enc­ing her New Media’s Inter­me­di­aries arti­cle, I want to glimpse back to reflect on how Nina Wake­ford posi­tioned INCITE and made sense of it against a back drop of cul­tur­al the­o­ry, sci­ence and tech­nol­o­gy stud­ies, CSCW and sociology
.. And, in doing this, I also want to peer for­ward, to con­sid­er what trou­bles there might be ahead, and what pro­duc­tive pos­si­bil­i­ties we might imag­ine for our­selves. (more…)